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Need for Gender Sensitization

August 22, 2011

Need for Gender Sensitization

The Fiji Police Force last week launched a national campaign to combat sexual offences by advocating the issue directly with the community.

While the Fiji Women’s Rights Movement believes that advocacy is definitely a step in the right direction in combating sexual offences, it is concerned with the level of gender sensitization within the police force.

“Statistics show that it is women who are more often the victims of sexual offences and members of the police force need to know how to advocate in a gender sensitive manner, taking into account the realities and experiences of women and children. One only has to look at the news to see that such crimes against women and children are on the rise,” said FWRM Executive Director Virisila Buadromo.

There are various gender stereotypes perpetuated by society when it comes to sexual offences.

These include:

• Rape is victim-precipitated. Women ask for rape/sexual violence by provocative mode of dress and behaviour or by going out after dark or going to shady and isolated places.
• Rape cannot occur if a woman resists.
• Women’s place is at home. If they go out, they must take what comes their way.
• Sexual harassment at work place and teasing are fun and women enjoy it.
• It’s the mother’s fault if her young daughter is sexually abused because she is a working mother.

There are many women and children, especially those in the rural communities, who are unaware of their rights and the very laws that protect them. It is therefore, of crucial importance that they are informed of their rights under the law without undue prejudice and it does not perpetuate further stereotyping.

“We urge the Police Commissioner to consider implementing an extensive gender sensitization training programme across all levels of the police force before it embarks on any form of community awareness and advocacy,” said Buadromo.


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